During the summer a popular activity for locals and tourists alike is to take a boat ride on the Zürichsee. As part of the public transportation system, ferries run up and down the length of the lake on a regular basis. On a sunny, summer weekend the lines of people waiting can stretch the length of the dock.
Anyone who has ever had to wait for the ferry to arrive only to be told it is full and they must continue to wait can tell you that larger ships with a greater passenger capacity are sorely needed.
So it was with a great deal of excitement and fanfare that a new ship was launched as part of the ZVV Fleet this past April. The 9.5 million (Swiss francs) triple-decker ferry promised to help alleviate the crowding and long lines. The Panta Rhei, from the Greek meaning "Everything Changes," would soon show that it's name was a rather ironic choice.
Within two weeks, the ship was pulled from service. Apparently the ship ended up a tad bit heavier than it should have been. About 60 tons heavier. This caused it to sit too low in the water and create waves. In turn, the waves created a great deal of complaints from the many sailors and other water-sport enthusiasts who wished to frolic in the lake.
Since then it has sat in its dock while it's owners, it's manufacturer and the Canton of Zürich argued and back-pedaled and tried to figure out what had gone wrong. And, of course, whose fault it all was!
Last weekend GLH and I happened to notice that the triple-decker ferry was sitting at the Burkliplatz dock. We thought perhaps they had worked out the issues and it was now in service. A closer inspection revealed a sign which reads Ich Bin Auch Ein Restaurant! (I am also a restaurant.)
It would appear that the ZVV decided there was no point in this incredibly expensive ship sitting at a dock losing money. Best put it to work anyway they could. So it is now a lake-side restaurant.
A bit of research gave me the backstory. A very long backstory told exclusively in German in Tages Anzeiger, a local daily newspaper. (Search Term: "Panta Rhei." There is a list of stories in the archives along with a price list that dissuaded me from researching more fully!)
Short version: the restaurant will operate until August 10th at which time it will go in for structural alterations that will lift it higher out of the water and reduce the waves by 40%. The fix will cost approximately 1 million CHF. Who will pay for the repairs (Owners, Manufacturers, Cantonal Government) is still being debated and will likely turn into a drawn-out court case.
Until August you have the opportunity to eat on this floating fiasco while gazing upon Zürich, the lake and, if it is a clear day, the Swiss Alps. Have no idea how the food is, but you cannot beat the view.